This blog represents my opinions and my opinions alone, and certainly doesn't represent the collective thoughts of any of the Boards or organizations that I serve on. Unfortunately I make all sorts of miistakes, I'm a picky eater, I can't sing and I just recently found out I have been spelling certain words in my vocabulary wrong my entire life. That being said, I still continue to muddle ever onward. Welcome.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Don't Forget The School Board Candidates Forum Tonight.

The Monona Elementary PTO is hosting a School Board candidate forum tonight in the Winnequah School IMC from 6:30 to 8:30. Childcare will be provided by the PTO. Please take a moment to get out and listen to what the candidates have to say!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Jessica,

    Can you elaborate on Ms. Fox's outburst at the forum last night? I have heard she and Ms. Manning got very agitated with Mr. Sobel's comments.

  3. Anonymous, why in the world would you think it appropriate for me to comment on your post? I suggest you speak to the people involved with whatever it is that you are talking about. I wasn't at the forum last night; I was at home with my children, who I haven't seen much of this week. If you want to sling mud, man up and do it yourself. Or better yet, on your own blog under your own name.

  4. I am not a Mr. Sobol "fan." However, the way he is treated is about as well as Manning was treated when she got on the board.

  5. I am not going to comment on the behavior of any of my Board colleagues. The only behavior I am going to comment on is my own and that of my children. My blog is not here to serve as an anonymous smackdown on whomever the pariah of the day is. Not interested.

  6. Anonymous,
    If you would like to speak to me about my attempt to correct Mr. Sobol's and Ms. Pickel's misrepresentations of my comments during the March 24 meeting, please call me at 222-5015. From your remarks, I can't tell whether you were present at the forum, since you describe my comments as an "outburst," but then say you "have heard..." Indeed, I did not appreciate the distorted representation of my explanation of my vote on March 24, and was glad that I was present to clarify. I have learned that some people hear what they want to hear, or twist what they hear or read, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and so even my attempt to clarify may have been misunderstood. Thus, I would rather be able to speak with you in person. I appreciate Jessica's unwillingness to comment, since she was not present.

  7. sounds like you were not even there. Thank you Jessica for not allowing someone to stir the pot.

  8. But Jessica that's the problem with this board. Not one single member has had the gumption to show leadership and publicly put his/her foot down on the dysfunction. You are not responsible for other's behavior but you are all equally responsible for the function of this board. This isn't a tea party and none of you need to like each other. But you are seven people elected to represent us and the seven of you can barely stand to be in the same room. How can the board do a good job in this crisis under these circumstances? Who is going to stand up and say that? How are we supposed to trust that some of you aren't making decision based on these interpersonal dramas? Who is going to stand up and demand that this board needs outside help to function effectively in the best interests of the rest of us? This is not one person's fault. It is group dysfunction and the dysfunction is profound. Only this group can fix it but you need help and I don't see anyone demanding that help. Since you have largley remained above the fray, you could be that person. You could say "I am done with this unless we can get our act together. We get some help, agree on some standards of behavior or I am done. I am not taking one more second of time away from my kids and family unless we change some things." Sorry to put words in your mouth, but I plead with you to step up. This district desperately needs to pass a spending referendum and that is going to be more difficult than a lot of people understand. It will be impossible with a school board that is rife with infighting.

  9. Oh yes, Anonymous, I agree with you. And don't think I haven't passed my displeasure on to my colleagues when I thought it necessary. In fact, I think I have actually said exactly what you have suggested, in one form or another, since I have been elected to the Board. I've just said it to them, respectfully, in private and not in a chastizing blog post. I am not going to be lead around by the nose on my own blog by anonymous commenters who want me to join in this sixth-grade-Lord-of-the-Flies behavior. It's not appropriate. Especially when I wasn't even there.

  10. But I will step up to the plate. Thanks for your comments.

  11. Oh yes, yes, I agree as far as that candidate forum drama goes, whatever it was. As far as the blog posts, well, here I am posting anonymously but I am not sure these blogs have helped at all. What do you think? I sort of wish all you would no longer allow anonymous posts. It fans the flames, no?

    But I must disagree with you in part about the private interactions. This has become so bad that it is no longer private. There is a place for those private conversations and you should continue them, but this community needs a board member who very publicly is not going to tolerate the current situation anymore. Of all the members you have proved your independence and as I watch this unfold, you have found your feet and I don't see you as a member of one faction or another. Sometimes the best leaders are the reluctant ones because they do it out of a sense of service rather than a need to control. There has to be one board member who cares less about what decisions are made and more about how the decisions are made. When they are made in a functional manner, you can have faith they are pretty good. Not perfect, but good enough.

    This is not that complicated, especially if the group could get a good facilitator. I suspect there is a very short list of specific behaviors that if agreed upon, could help the situation. No Kumbayah stuff - but just practical, specific standards to which you all hold each other accountable. For example, emails from one board member to another or to the entire board. (I am aware there has been some ill feelings around this issue although I don't know the details nor do I care to.) Those are public records, but you could all agree that if you are going to forward a fellow board member's email to anyone, you will do them the courtesy of copying them on that forward. That's reasonable, courteous and is the sort of stuff I am talking about.

    This all goes back to needing to be able to pass a spending referendum. If any one member of this board gives voters reasons to vote no, the whole thing is sunk.

  12. You know what? You are entirely right.

  13. As the tag shows, I strongly belive in anoymous posts. From a practical matter, I have so many accounts, that I can't remember names or passwords anymore. Many times a post will generate a quick idea, which I'd rather type and move on too.

    From a therory point, I think you will get more ideas if people don't have to identify themselves. It is sad that this will bring out trolls, but I'm confident that you can ignore things that aren't relevent. You can follow Doug Wood's rules for anonymous posts on candidates, which are pretty easy to follow, and should still get good ideas.

    With regards to the comments about the board's behavior, I don't think you can avoid it. Nationwide, we are loosing our ability to act as adults. For some reason, we've changed our idea of compromise from 'everyone wins' to 'everyone looses,' and there is a anti-intellectualism movement that loves raw emotion. I think with this type of voting public, most elected bodies will act like our Board.

  14. I disagree. There are specific issues with this board that cannot be cured, but they can be minimized with proper leadership.

  15. If "they can be minimized with proper leadership" then who is to take that lead? Does Sue Fox as president lead? Does Jessica or any other member have the ability to truly lead?

    I agree there is a leadership issue and I think it starts at the top, so I implore you Ms. Fox to lead this board.

  16. This is what we deal with on the Board- straight from my Board colleague, Peter Sobol's blog. How's THIS for working together?

    Anonymous said...
    i am not sure how logical it is to vote in Pickel over Manning..... if you want someone with no experience in what matters... than i guess you have your candidate. i feel we already have enough of that on the board- McCutchin has no experience other than accounting and none in education. Does it make sense? No way!

    March 29, 2010 4:50 PM

    Peter Sobol said...
    When you consider the real role of the board, financial and management experience is IMHO significantly more important that knowledge of education. After all the district has lots of education experts.

    Jason's financial experience as well as his committee service made him the most qualified of the 3 news candidates last year. Jennifer's qualifications, including PTO president and committee service are equivalent or better than that of some of the candidates elected last year.

    March 29, 2010 10:04 PM

    Jessica said...
    Exactly whose qualifications are you referring to, Peter?

    An undeserved slam on both Jennifer Pickel and Jason McCutchin that Peter answers back with a slam on me. Nice. To what end does this serve?

  17. I don't read that as a slam on you. It sounded like he was defending Pickel and McCutchin. He stated that he thought that Jason was the most qualified, which, right or wrong, is an opinion he's entitled to. It then sounds like a comparison that Jennifer is at least as qualified as you and Lionel. You had the experience of having been PTO president, Lionel had the experience of having served on a committee, Jennifer has the experience of both of those, which would make her qualifications "equivalent or better than that of some of the candidates elected last year." Would you disagree that they are?

    I know it can be tough to not get defensive, but perpetuating this on your blog? To what end does this serve? I sincerely think that you have done a great job on this blog to not get sucked into this sort of behavior, don't give in now!

  18. To the anonymous poster above, who posted this: "I agree there is a leadership issue and I think it starts at the top, so I implore you Ms. Fox to lead this board."

    My response: Have you ever tried to herd cats?

    There has to be a minimal desire among the cats to work together, if not to get along. I'll refrain from saying more, because I agree with the above poster that this blog has been uniquely refreshing in its mostly constructive comments and respectful tone, and I try to stay out of the litter box.

  19. I read the comment on Sobol's blog as defense of Pickel and McCutchin too.
    Email/notes/blogs often come across as negative because the written word has authority and no face to face contact. You don't get the clues you would by tone or gestures.
    I've even gotten a note from a boss to "see me," and I got all worked up thinking I was in trouble. They wanted me to cover someone's shift.

  20. All true, and believe me, I will not be wasting any more time on this subject. We've got a couple of slightly more important things going on in this district. However, I want to point out that no one Board member should take it upon themself to publicly decree who is and who is not more qualified to serve our district on the School Board. Have your opinions, that's fabulous, but when you put that out there, it's not very conducive to colloborative behavior among Board colleagues. We are a Board of seven equal members with different strengths and ideas, not the A team and the bench riders.

  21. I appreciate all that the school board does, and each member's dedication to serving our district and communities.

    As long as we're going to discuss qualifications, however, let me weigh in by saying I'm disappointed that with all the "full-time" school board members we've had the past 5-10 years that things aren't a bit more settled in this district.

    Perhaps the fact that so many people can spend so much time dissecting issues leads to the analysis paralysis I've seen so frequently?

    Just my .02.

  22. Its a poor leader who blames "the cats."

  23. And besides, they are not cats. They are people. People need to trust their leadership. If only part of the board trusts the board president this is a recipe for disaster. Is there not one among the seven of you that you all trust? The board president can try to forward her/his agenda on issues, or can lead the rest of the board to make decisions in the best interests of the students and community but probably not both. At this point in time the board needs a leader who is more interested in the latter rather than the former.

  24. "Its a poor leader who blames "the cats."

    Agreed. I mean it can not be easy, but if the board wants to act like cats and the leader thinks their cats or a room full of 7 the graders-then we got what we got and they ain't going to accomplish much.